Frederick Tomlinson Peet.

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One found a button marked H. M. A. in a
ruin ; must have belonged to a member of
the Hampton Military Academy. The old
flag pole which the rebels had is still here.
We left at twelve marched a mile, and en-
camped with Gen Martindale's Brigade.
Next day we struck tents and marched to
our present camp, which we have named
Gamp Porter.— Gen. Morrell's head quar-
ters are on the road a few hundred feet


above us. Gen. Martindale comes next,
General Butterfield's brigade is stationed
about two miles farther on. Gen. Porter's
head quarters are near here. We are all
(Gen Porter's division) on the road to
Yorktown. The men's tents consist of
two or three india rubber blankets of an
inferior quality pinned or buttoned to-
gether, and laid over three stakes : the
tents when made are about three feet high,
and six feet long. Each tent accommo-
dates two men. — Our men are armed with
Colt's rifles; two companies from Michi-
gan & New Hampshire have target rifles.
Our men have been on picket every day
and night since our arrival. We are used
only as sharp shooters ; two or three of our
men are stationed with each group of pick-
ets, merely to shoot. Wednesday night we
were awakened at twelve oclock, and or-


dered to arise at 4. A M pick twenty men
for duty, and report at 6. A. M. the next
day, also to have one day's rations cooked.
Winthrop was out on picket. The captain
gave me permission to go, so the next
morning we started, under command of
Col Berdan, Lieut Col and Major. Our
men together with those from the other
companies making some 150 men. It
proved to be a reconnoissance in force.
After marching some distance and passing
(I should judge) ten thousand men, our
command was separated in two divisions—

A part of the company some twenty

target rifles, with telescopic sights from
New Hampshire company, and the detail
from our company composed our division.
We were under command of Col & Major;
the men were dressed in green, and ap-
peared well. At 9. A. M. we took the


lead— The other division of S. S under the
Lieut Col separated from us and lead Gen
Morrell's brigade, on the other road, both
which as you will remember meet the one
which was travelled at Big Bethel. It was
at this junction, where the regiments fired
into one another, last year when we at-
tacked Bethel. — Our company & company
A. led off— Company A. on the right
(Swiss). Our company had the left wing
of skirmishers. I was with the left group.
The Gapt was some distance behind the
centre with the reserve. We skirted the
woods, beat the woods, travelled through
swamps, got wet, dried again, still saw no
rebels. Our company & company A.
(Swiss) were ahead of every thing, and
well did they do their duty. The men did
not give out though not relieved once all
day. I was ordered to search a house on


the left, so I took four men, but found
nothing contraband. I saw one man who
declared himself an old line Whig, Union
etc etc. It took some time to find the col-
umn again, owing to a change in the direc-
tion of the road. We doubled quick. One
man gave out, so with the three others we
caught up to the line of skirmishers in
about half an hour. On arriving I was or-
dered off again to the right of the road, our
company having changed position with
company A. Well we marched to Big
Bethel, at 12 M. the rebels had become
aware of our approach, & had left. — We
saw some cavalry. Our men were first on
the forsaken ramparts, and had the fun of
shooting a rebel horseman.— The works
here are quite extensive ; had they made a
stand here there would have been some
hard fighting. Here the main column re-


mained— we with some cavalry pushed
several miles further, and had some good
shots, and killed a few, (the men say) and
at last discovered another fortification.—
Some of our company went so near, that
they could plainly see the rebels putting on
their knapsacks. Our men behaved well,
and received the praises of the General.
General Porter sent for a body guard of
sharp shooters, which he kept with him all
day. After finding the fortification we
waited, expecting reinforcements, as it
would have been an easy matter to have
shelled them.— They did not come and we
were ordered back, & marched home. It
was fun to see the rebels run.— One time a
company of their cavalry was stationed
near a house. We sent some twenty of
our men by the side of a fence, to get a
shot at them. Our men gained their posi-


tion. The rebels saw them, but took no
notice, as they did not think they were
within range. As soon however as our
target rifles spoke, and struck one, or two,
it would have done you good, to see them
run. There was a notice in the Richmond
papers that we had arrived here. I won-
der if they knew us.— After marching this
long distance, we marched back to our
camps. I suppose no man in the army
marched as much as I did, that day, it was
certainly 28 or 30 miles.— Just before start-
ing, in the morning, after we had passed
our pickets, the word came down the line,
from the General, "the Sharp Shooters, to
the Front," and we did go double quick—
Our regiment was the only one that had
any skirmishing with the enemy. — I send a
quarter of a dollar to Fred Terry, which
was taken from a safe, when the rebels
burnt Hampton. Some 100 men Sharp


Shooters, were in a barge being towed
from Washington to Old Point when on ac-
count of the gale, a few nights since, they
were obliged to be cut loose from the tug,
and have drifted off, and have not since
been heard from. — The tug arrived here
yesterday. — Our chaplain is not here. —
We expect soon to march on Yorktown.
We have here some 80 or 100,000 men. I
expect our destination will be Richmond.
I am well and happy, and hope I shall be
kept in God's hand, through the danger of
battle. However none can tell what may-
happen, so whether I am taken or left, I
hope it will be well with me— in either case
rest assured I will do my duty. My trunk,
box, two coats, are at Mr Moore's, near
the camp of Instruction, Washington.—
Love to all I remain

Your affectionate Son



I have just received a letter from you &
William, the direction is correct. I am
sorry that you are laid up.

In camp near Yorktown.

Go H. S. S. Ap. 8. 62
Dear Father

I sent a few lines to William this morn-
ing. I did not know how long we should
remain here, which must account for my
not writing before. Friday morning we
struck tents, and by five o clock were on
the march until we arrived at Bethel ; two
companies of cavalry were ahead of us.
The day was fine much like the one when
we last visited Bethel. On arriving there
our regiment was sent off some miles to the
right of the road to cut off some of the ene-
my's cavalry. After stumbling through


mud and briers we struck the road but to
our discomfort we found the enemy had
flown. We were some distance behind the
head of the column, so we doubled quick,
and reached our position just as the column
came up to the first fortification, which I
spoke about in my last letter. Go. H was
immediately sent ahead to skirmish. On
approaching the rebels two shots with their
cannon which had the effect of calling the
several brigades into position, the 14th
regiment Col McQuade being drawn up
immediately in front of the batteries. One
of our batteries fired a number of shell
among them & succeeded in dislodging
them. Our company continued to advance
feeling the way slowly, and to our surprise
coming to the fort found it deserted. The
first intimation we had of its being vacated
was seeing the banner of our country


planted upon the ramparts. As the regi-
ments passed the men cheered, and Gen
Porter raised his hat to them. The regi-
ment now advanced again, Go H skirmish-
ing ahead, each man bearing a heavy
packed knapsack which in the first part of
the march was the cause of much grum-
bling, but in the excitement was not
thought much of. The regiment soon fell
in line and recommenced the march. We
passed some quite extensive woods, and
had they been well manned would have
proved quite an obstacle to us. Some of
the regiments halted the other side of them
but we were marched on several miles,
through a dense wood, and finally en-
camped near four houses, some six miles
from Yorktown.— Captain Hastings, Dr
Snelling, and myself obtained supper and
breakfast at the house of a secesh near by,


by giving the sum of 25 cents to the cook-
Next morning we again commenced our
march At eleven A-M. we became aware
of the nearness of the enemy by the whiz-
zing of a shell which struck quite near us.
The second fell six feet behind an officer,
who dropped just in time to avoid it. He
dropped so suddenly, and lay so still, that
I was taken by surprise to see, what I sup-
posed was a dead man, rise up slowly, look
around, & then make tracks for his com-
pany. From that time during the most of
the day, the shells flew about us. We
were ordered forward, and onward we
went— On arriving at a house on the left of
the road, and about fifteen hundred yards
from the enemy, we deployed, two compa-
nies to the right, two to the left, leaving a
sufficient reserve in the rear of each, in
case of an attack of cavalry. 1 will not go


more into detail, but suffice it to say, that
for some time when marching in full sight
of the fortifications, the bullets from the
rifles whizzed all about us, right-left & be-
neath us, yet not one was injured.— Upon
one occasion we approached so near the
enemy, that one of our batteries mistook
us for rebels, and fired some shots at us.—
Our men on the left, under cover of a
peach orchard, almost completely silenced
the enemy's guns. Towards evening in
order to load their cannon without expos-
ing themselves, they were obliged to place
some bags above the cannon. — This bat-
tery was but one of several extending some
miles from York to James river. During
the day we lost two killed, and several
wounded. One of the former was of my
company, & one of the best men we had.
He was always a still quiet fellow, never


troubling any one, and always doing his
duty. It occurred in this way. Our com-
pany was acting as a reserve. We had
been lying in a hollow of the road, and
field, under some trees. It was towards 4.
P. M. and as I had remained with the com-
pany all day I concluded to walk about, to
see what was to be seen. The infantry
with the exception of one regiment was out
of sight, the artillery and sharp shooters,
having done all the fighting, at least so far
as I could see, and I had heard no mus-
ketry from our side all the day. I had left
my position but a few moments, when the
enemy, attracted by some smoke from a
fire, which one of Go B had made, threw
at first a small shot, which ricocheted right
over the heads of our men, striking to the
one side of them, & bouncing over. They
next threw a shell, which burst over them,


killing Phelps, and wounding a man of Go
B slightly. Our men have been out on
picket duty every night, and last night we
had one of our men shot by a rifle ball,
through his finger ; it has since been ampu-
tated. As we reached here Saturday, we
all expected that the battle would com-
mence, Sunday; but Gen McClellan
thought not; so we have been here yester-
day & today lying still. McClellan, we are
confident, is hard at work. Perfect confi-
dence is placed in him by all, & when the
fight again comes, I have no doubt that vic-
tory will attend us. The enemy have many
large cannon, a strong position, & a large
army to keep it. I have no doubt that
God will bless our cause with success.
Give my love to all at home, and should I
write again I trust to be able to speak of
the taking of Yorktown. I am glad to hear


that Father & William are better. Did
you receive the quarter of a dollar I sent
to Fred Terry.

With much love I remain

Your affectionate Son


Camp Porter 1st Rgt U S. S. S.

Near Hampton Va Apl 3, 62.
Dear Mother

The last letter was written so unintelaga-
bly that I am sure it hardly paid one to
read it. I will try however this time to
write plainer. I have a better pencil.
The weather has been very pleasant since
our arrival. I hear from Wm that Father
is quite ill. I cant tell you how I feel
about it but it is a comfort to me to know
that whatever 1 have done or been in the


past, I am now doing as he wishes and ap-
proves. Knowing as I do that my duty
lies in the part I have chosen I can march
to battle and have no fear of the conse-

We start tomorrow at daylight, no doubt
to meet the enemy. I suppose, as McGlel-
lan has arrived, it is the first move in the
direction of Richmond.

There is a rumor that Big Bethel is being
fortified anew by the rebels. If so we will
be obliged to take it, this will be but the
commencement of their fortifications.

We must have over 100.000 men, the
picked men of the grand army ; the rebel-
lion must fail when we march on ! York-
town is reported to be strongly fortified ;
here it is expected they will make their
strongest stand on the Peninsular. At
Norfolk some 100.000 rebels will oppose


us should we attack it. It is said to be
strongly fortified.

Ask Wm if he has yet given Hattie her
present, also if Father & he received the
money which I enclosed them.

Some cartes were ordered by me before
leaving, not being finished I left the requi-
site money with a friend Miss Potts, in
Washington; I believe she lives in 17th St
between H & I. If I go through the bat-
tles without injury she will keep them for
me— if not you had better write for them.

Dont think I am low spirited for in the
last reconnoisance I felt no fear, although
the breastworks did appear rather queerly
when [I] first caught sight of them.

Give my love to Rebekah, Father, Rob-
ert, Julia, & Hattie, and the rest of the
family ; tell Aunty I have her pistol all
ready. If I tumble over give Fred Terry


my target rifle, and Tom Peet my breech
loading rifle.

My concience is pretty clear & my shoes
are very easy, so

Good bye with love I remain
Your ever affectionate Son

Lt. Go H
IstU.S.S. S.

Gamp before Yorktown, US S.S
April 13-62
Dear Sister.

I received your letter last week. Since
its receipt we have changed our camping
ground— indeed all the army has moved
back, about a mile. Before our removal
we could have been shelled any time the
enemy had taken a fancy to do so.— I am


not certain but that [it] is possible even now.
—We are still before Yorktovvn, and daily
expecting the arrival of our siege guns. I
understand that we are to have, or have
now, an immense number of cannon &
mortars, some of the siege guns are 100
lbs. — I heard from an officer of the 2nd in-
fantry, USA. that the first parallel had
been commenced yesterday.— I received
letters from Father, Mother & Fred Terry
—on the 11th & 12th inst. I have been on
picket duty since I last wrote & have been
fortunate enough to have had quite a little
brush with the chivalry. — I did not keep a
duplicate of my official report to the colonel
— I wish I had, it was sent to Generals
Porter, Hirntzelman & Hamilton — I will
try to give you some idea of the position of
things, by a sketch of the ground & the vi-
cinity, where it occurred day before yes-


terday— I reported myself and twenty men
to Gen. Hamilton, was ordered by his A
A Gen. to report to Gen Jamieson— who
would detail me, with some of his regiment
63. Penn— Col Hays— After some trouble
I was conducted to the woods. (G*)
where I found the reserve— some three
companies— I reported myself to Col Hays,
and was ordered to take my men to the
rifle pits, in the peach orchard, where the
S. Shooters, had distinguished themselves
the first day. I deployed the men five
paces apart, and crossed the open plain,
and road, without drawing any shot & shell
from the rebels. The operation was rather
dangerous, as all pickets are relieved at
night, so as not to be seen & fired on. It
was near 10. A. M. I should have been
on the ground sooner but owing to the re-
moval of the camps I had (not) been able to


find Gen. Hamilton, to whom to report
myself & men. The pits were already oc-
cupied by some of the 63rd regiment.

Copy of one of my letters.

F. T. Peet.

Fortress Monroe Apl 28th 62.
Dear Mother

In the language of Webster "I aint dead
yet." I arrived at Baltimore* about 7.30
Sunday morning walked about a mile &
half and brought up at the Maltby House
where I took breakfast & dinner.

I hunted about to find an Episcopal
Church, but was unsuccessful ; so I lis-
tened to a Presbiterian for about twenty
minutes and then fell asleep. In Baltimore

Note— *Lt. Peet left the army Apr. "A)th passed the ex-
amination for the Marine Corps at Washington, went to his
home in Brooklyn for one night and was back in camp Apr.


the women are the only ones who still
show secession proclivities. I was going
from one side of the Meeting House to the
other just before I took my seat when on
passing a young woman she stepped aside
and drew in her skirts as much as to say
"You villanous fellow, Keep away from
me." I laughed and passed on.

After church I was standing near the en-
trance watching the people, but especially
watching for the one who seemed so dis-
gusted with my appearance before church,
when some of the women began talking
and laughing at me. I over heard one say,
"Well I guess his coat will be greener
when he gets into Virginia." I smiled and
would have touched my hat, but they
passed on I left Baltimore at six P M the
boat having been detained an hour. On
board I met a Col Grant, he has no Rgt


but merely the rank of Col, he is the man
that invented the Calcium light, very inteli-
gent and I listened to his arguments on the
Nigger with great zest, his ideas are new
and I think very plausable ; he seems to
know every thing I never met a man so
well posted on every subject. I met also a
Major, who commands a Batallion of
Sharp Shooters, Mounted; he is or appears
very young and is very handsome. I
found by conversing with him that he had
just returned from Europe having been
there some years. He goes on immedi-
ately to join Burnside.

My boat from Ship Point leaves here at
12 or 1, and the mail leaves immediately so
I will say good by,

With love to all I remain

affectionately Your Son



Tell Wm that the expense of coming on
has been more than I expected, and I will
need some fifteen or twenty dollars to be
able to return. F.

Camp Winfield Scott Near Yorktown
1st U S Sharp Shooters
May 2, 1862
Dear Father

Your letter was received yesterday. I
paid a visit to Cousin Ned in the evening
he agreed with me that my chances in the
Army would be very slim, not one in a
thousand that I could get a position with
the Regulars. I concluded to write to Sec-
retary Welles for the leave of absence,
should I be called home before the com-
mencement of the seige. I am of the opin-
ion now however it would preferable to


wait until confirmed before I make the ap-
plication. What do you think of it?

I was on Picket the day before yesterday
and to my astonishment found the parra-
lells, so far as I could judge, nearly com-
pleted. The day was cold, wet and dis-
agreeable. I arose at 2. A. M. and
returned to camp at 7 P. M. The firing on
neither side was very spirited, at one time
I was within one hundred yds of the rebel
pickets, the foliage which lined the banks
of the creek, on the other side of which
they were, concealed them from us. They
could be distinctly heard talking and chop-
ping wood.

Towards evening just before leaving I al-
lowed one of my men to try his hand at a
group of traitors which had been on the
fortifications all the afternoon, watching the
effect of their, and our batteries, (ours was


stationed on my right and to the rear of me
about a mile,) which were hammering
away at each other like good fellows.

Although they were distant over a mile
from me, yet my shot received an answer
in the shape of a six pound rifle cannon
ball, which whizzed over us within a few
feet of our heads.

I then took a large target telescope rifle
and popped away at them, again they re-
turned the compliment with a shell which
lucky for us did not burst. It was then
time to return home so the Sharp Shooters
fell back into the parralells. We were no
sooner safely in than another 6 lbder came
singing along, passing over the very spot
where we had crossed the Merlon, but a
foot above it and went through a tree about
ten feet from me.

I would rather have a shell fired at me


than a little cannon such as they used then,
for the reason that they can be shot almost
as strait as a target rifle, when aimed with
a glass. Nothing has occured since then
worth mentioning except that one of our
100 lbs parrot guns keep a fire most all day
and night in answer to one of the rebel 150

We have 5 100 Ibdrs, and one 200 lbdr,
which are placed on our right, so as to
command the enemies left and Gloucester
point. Yesterday we fired the 100 lbdr
and shivered the Yorktown dock, then
hammered away at the dock on Gloucester
Point. The shipping had all been driven
behind the Point when to their surprise a
200 pound shell was dropped among them,
when they left for a safer place.

To day one of the enemies big guns
burst; we dismantled another smaller one.


Will you send me my cartes. I forgot
them when I came away Also send a
carte of myself to Sarah Coffin ; direct it to
her and let Mr Terry take it.

Cousin Ned wished to be remembered
to you all. I have received two letters
from Hattie and Wra each.

Your affectionate Son


Camp Winfield Scott. US. S. S.

Sunday May 4, 1862
Dear Sister

To-day we rejoice over the evacuation
of Yorktown by the rebels — just one month
from the day we struck tents at Camp Por-
ter & marched forth to meet the enemy.
It is a glorious day for the grand army of
the Potomac, and still more so for the
Sharp Shooters. We were the first in


Yorktovvn. Our Sergeant Major, who
had heen on picket for the last week had
charge of our detail. The approach of a
man from the fortifications was made
known to him, ahout 6 A. M., and by him
reported to Gen. Jamieson, (the same
General who had charge of the outposts
when I had the skirmish the 12th of last
month), who ordered the Sergeant Major
—to go out with some of his men & cap-
ture him. He obeyed, reappearing in a
short time with the individual— who proved
to be a deserter. Then first information
was given to us that Yorktown had been
evacuated.— Gen Jamieson & Col Black,
with two regiments (the 62nd Pennsylva-
nia, and one other whose number I have
forgotten) — to back him, preceded by the
Sharp Shooters, then sallied forth & cap-
tured, after a bloodless struggle, the re-


nowned fortifications of Yorktown. Gen
Jamieson, owing to the courtesy of the
Sergeant Major — who waited until the gen-
eral arrived — was the first to place his foot
on the deserted ramparts. Our men fol-
lowed, and the general praising the good
hehaviour of our men gave them the privi-
lege of roaming wherever their curiosity
led them. The other regiments were sta-
tioned inside the lines. The enemy left in

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Online LibraryFrederick Tomlinson PeetCivil war letters and documents of Frederick Tomlinson Peet → online text (page 4 of 9)